Golden Girl Finance
 
Lenore J. Davis
Posts (10)
 
 

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Q&A: Should we sell stocks or use savings for a condo down payment?

December 7th, 2012 by
 

Q: My husband and I are retired (65 & 62 years old). We want to buy a condo townhouse. We have $75,000 in cash savings, $85,000 invested in stocks (currently down $149,000 in value from total purchase amount). Three years ago, we sold off some of the stock and showed a loss which gave us $40,000 in future ability to carry the loss forward. We have $50,000 in our TFSAs. Our question is this: Should we sell off the remaining stock investment ($85,000) to apply to a down payment or should we use the TFSA plus some savings to use as the down payment? We have RRSPs accumulated in the amount of $240,000 which we are not using at this time, but will look at a RIF situation when we need more operating cash. Thanks so much.

Asked by Priscilla, White Rock, BC

 

Buying a new home is an exciting adventure, but I'm guessing it's not the first time you've done this.  Since you've phrased your question as "either this or that", I gather you're trying to decide how best to come up with $85K for a downpayment? 

My question back to you is this: "What is the rate of return on the stocks compared to the rate of return on the savings and TFSA investments?"  If the stocks are paying a 3.5% dividend while the savings and TFSA are earning less than that, it seems evident that you should use the savings and the TFSA money.  If the reverse is true, then I'd say sell the stocks and reposition the investments in your TFSA to create a higher yield. 

You can't do anything about the past.  If the stocks are down in value and they aren't paying good dividends, you just don't know if or when they'll come back in price.  Rip off the bandaid...take your losses and move on in the world of home ownership.

 

 

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Q&A: Canadian living in France - do I pay tax in both countries?

May 7th, 2012 by
 

I am a Canadian living in France, married to a French National. I am deemed a non-resident of Canada. I did my taxes as required by the Canadian Government, but I am not sure if I have to pay taxes in France. Canada has a tax treaty with the French government. Do you know where I can get information?

Asked by Anonymous, France

 

Wow, full marks to you for wanting to make sure the French get their fair share of your tax money to pay for services you receive from them.

It appears you're staying onside with Canada Revenue by filing non-resident tax returns - good for you! As for determining your precise tax status in France, I have no direct experience in this area. My instinct would be to search out the highest level office you can find in your area, and arrange to speak with someone directly.

Alternatively, you might seek out the advice of a CFP licensee - their organization is l'Association Francaise des Conseils en Gestion de Patrimoine Certifies (www.cgpc.fr) - and they have a search tool on their website.

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Q&A: When your salary increases exponentially - who can you trust for advice?

March 5th, 2012 by
 

I have recently switched over from re-sale homes to new homes (builder). During the course of this year, I have earned six digits. I have not been in this tax bracket before and am nervous and naive about what to do and who to trust without large fees attached to them. Any advice?

Asked by Real Life, Brampton, ON

 

Good for you - achieving that magic 6 figure income is a great accomplishment, and I can understand your feeling that you want to make good decisions to safeguard your new situation. As a self-employed person, there are two things that can bring your financial house down - tax obligations (HST and personal taxes) and cash management - and the two are interrelated. Number one, you must consult with an accounting professional to make sure you have your tax situation under control. She will help you set up a system for tracking income and expenses, as well as obligations under HST. This may appear to be an expensive step in the first year, but once you understand the reporting requirements, you can save fees by doing the record keeping yourself. On the cash management side of things, make sure to set aside the money you'll have to send in for HST and personal income tax every month, or whenever you get a commission cheque. This can be done really simply by using an online virtual bank that offers no-fee accounts tied to your normal operating account. Our rule of thumb is to set aside all of the HST you collect and 20% of gross commission into these accounts. Do not allow yourself to spend this money over the course of the year. Once you file your HST and personal tax return, you may find there is money left over in this "sinking fund" - BONUS!! There's the money to make your RRSP contribution in advance for next year! And whatever you do, stick to the program.

Now for the personal side of things...you'll be tempted to expand your spending to fit your cash flow. Okay, go ahead and indulge a little, but remember that cash flow may have its ups and downs. Sit down and write out your "steady state" spending needs, then add in the indulgences (the wants). Then try to set up another personal sinking fund each time you get a big paycheque - this is for long term planning and investment. Remember, though, that when wants become needs, your personal financial plan can be inundated with weeds.

Low-cost advice on investing your nest egg is out there, but just like affordable and valuable real estate, you get what you pay for. If you want advice so that you can manage your investments yourself, consider hiring a financial planner to help you out. Look for the R.F.P. or CFP designation and make sure to ask how that person is compensated. There's nothing wrong with someone whose income comes from commission (like you) but recognize that the salesman on the Ford lot (for example) is highly unlikely to suggest you go next door and buy a Mazda!

I hope this helps you out. Congratulations, and good luck as your financial future unfolds.

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Q&A: Disability because of medical malpractice - what kind of benefits can I expect?

November 28th, 2011 by
 

I have partial disability because of medical malpractice. What kind of benefits can I expect from the government?

Asked by Anonymous, Scarborough, ON

 

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. While your question is a good one, the answer has to be predicated by the phrase "It's complicated..." The definition of disability ranges from "unable to perform the essential duties of your own occupation" to "unable to perform any occupation for which you might be suited". Further, sometimes disability is determined by loss of wages and other times by loss of capacity to work. We would hope that your employer is helping you to cope with work to the extent your disability permits.

Federal government programs like EU and CPP generally kick in only when a person is totally disabled. EU, obviously, is paid when a person can't work at all and lasts for a relatively short period of time. CPP disability, once eligibility is established (and that's not easy!), can last much longer.

Provincial programs for the disabled are wide ranging and vary considerably from province to province. In my experience, expecting the government to provide benefits if you are still able to work is not a particularly hopeful situation; I hope your malpractice suit arrived at a reasonable compensation to help with your situation.

I would suggest you contact a local advisor and your provincial government to find out what programs might apply on a provincial level, as well as to help you apply for any federal benefits.

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Q&A: How to invest and make as much as possible in short time frame?

September 6th, 2011 by
 

I have $10,000 saved and would like to know how I can invest this to make as much as possible, perhaps over 3 years? I'm 32 years old.

Asked by Anonymous, Noosa, Australia

 

Three years is a really short time frame in "investor years" and it's very hard to recommend anything other than some sort of guaranteed investment certificate. My first thought: What do you have in mind as a target for that money 3 years from now? If it's a major purchase (in other words, you're planning on spending it all), then you have to safeguard the capital. Buy something that pays interest and has a guaranteed maturity value at least as great as the sum you are going to put in.

My next thought: Are you carrying any revolving debt that has an interest cost higher than you could earn on the above recommendation? If so, pay the debt down, then reborrow if necessary to accomplish your goal.